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Salicylic Acid

    DEA Class; Rx, OTC

    Common Brand Names; Compound W, Compound W for Kids, Dr. Scholl’s Advanced Pain Relief Corn Removers, Dr. Scholl’s Callus Removers, Dr. Scholl’s Clear Away, Dr. Scholl’s Clear Away OneStep, Dr. Scholl’s Clear Away Plantar, Dr. Scholl’s Corn Removers, Dr. Scholl’s Moisturizing Corn Remover Kit, Dr. Scholl’s OneStep Corn Removers, DuoPlant, Durasal, Keralyt, Mediplast, Trans-Ver-Sal AdultPatch, Trans-Ver-Sal PediaPatch, Trans-Ver-Sal PlantarPatch, Sal-Acid, Virasal, Psoriasin Medicated Wash

    • Keratolytic Agents

    salicylic acid acne (OTC)

    Brand and Other Names: Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash, Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash, Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Stress Control, Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Foam Cleanser, Neutrogena Rapid Clear Acne Defense Face Lotion, Neutrogena Rapid Clear Acne Eliminating Spot Gel, Clean & Clear Advantage 3-in1 Foaming Acne wash, Clean & Clear Deep Cleaning Astringent, Clean & Clear Blackhead Eraser Scrub, Clean & Clear Dual Action Moisturizer, Clean & Clear Advantage Mark Treatment, Clean and Clear Advantage Acne Control Moisturizer, Oxy Clinical Advanced Face Wash, Oxy Maximum Face Scrub, Oxy Maximum Hydrating Body Wash, Oxy Maximum Cleansing Pads, Oxy Clinical Hydrating Therapy, Oxy Clinical Foaming Face Wash, Palmers Skin Success Acne Medication Cleanser, Zapzyt Acne Wash, Zapzyt Pore Clearing Scrub, Clearasil Ultra Rapid Action Face Scrub, Clearasil Daily Clear Daily Pore Cleansing Pads, Clearasil Daily Clear Vanishing Acne Treatment Cream, Benzac Skin Balancing Foaming Cleanser 0.5%, Benzac Intensive Spot Treatment 2%, Benzac Blemish Clearing Hydrator 0.5%, Benzac Skin Refining Mask
    • Classes: Acne Agents, Topical

    Oral retinoid; synthetic 13-cis isomer of naturally occurring tretinoin
    Used primarily for severe, recalcitrant nodular acne
    Due to teratogenicity potential, only available through isotretinoin iPLEDGE REMs program

    Indicated for the treatment of severe recalcitrant cystic acne vulgaris (nodular acne) in patients with multiple inflammatory nodules with a diameter of at least 5 mm.

    For the treatment of keratinization disorders including keratosis follicularis, lamellar ichthyosis, and pityriasis rubra pilaris.
    For the treatment of juvenile chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML).
    For the treatment of newly diagnosed, high-risk neuroblastoma following autologous bone marrow transplantation.
    For the treatment of recurrent cervical cancer, in combination with interferon alfa.
    For the adjuvant treatment of advanced squamous cell head and neck cancer, in combination with interferon alfa and vitamin E.
    For the adjuvant treatment of aggressive squamous cell skin carcinoma, in combination with interferon alfa.


    Prolonged use or application to large areas (risk for salicylism)

    Children < 2 years


    • Impaired circulaiton (diabetes)
    • Warts with hair growth or on face
    • Birthmarks
    • Moles

    Facial warts or warts on mucous membranes

    Warts with hair growing from them


    Infected, reddened, or irritated areas

    • Stinging/burning of skin
    • Dizziness
    • Headache
    • Tinnitus
    • Mental confusion
    • Peeling
    • Scaling
    • Burning/irritaion on normal tissue at site of exposure
    • Hyperventilation

    External topical use only

    Avoid contact with eyes

    Caution in infants, diabetics, or those with impaired circulation (diabetes)

    Prolonged use over large areas, especially in children and those patients with significant renal or hepatic impairment, could result in salicylism

    Avoid concomitant use of other drugs which may contribute to elevated serum salicylate levels when the potential for toxicity is present

    In children <12 years and patients with renal or hepatic impairment, area to be treated should be limited and patient monitored closely for signs of salicylate toxicity, including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, loss of hearing, tinnitus, lethargy, hyperpnea, diarrhea, and psychic disturbances

    In event of salicylic acid toxicity, discontinue use of SA 6%

    Fluids should be administered to promote urinary excretion; treatment with sodium bicarbonate (oral or intravenous) should be instituted as appropriate

    Patients should be cautioned against use of oral aspirin and other salicylate containing medications, such as sports injury creams, to avoid additional excessive exposure to salicylic acid

    Where needed, aspirin should be replaced by alternative non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent that is not salicylate based

    Patients should be advised not to apply occlusive dressings, clothing or other occlusive topical products such as petrolatum-based ointments to prevent excessive systemic exposure to salicylic acid

    Excessive application of product other than what is needed to cover affected area will not result in a more rapid therapeutic benefit

    Due to potential risk of developing Reye’s syndrome, salicylate products should not be used in children and teenagers with varicella or influenza, unless directed by physician

    Drug shown to be teratogenic in rats and monkeys; difficult to extrapolate from oral doses of acetylsalicylic acid used in these studies to topical administration as the oral dose to monkeys may represent six times the maximal daily human dose of salicylic acid when applied topically over a large body surface

    Because of potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants from mother’s use of SA 6%, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or discontinue drug, taking into account importance of drug to mother; if used by nursing mothers, should not be used on chest area to avoid accidental contamination of child


    2 mg/kg/day PO (all formulations EXCEPT Absorica LD) for cystic acne; 1.6 mg/kg/day PO (Absorica LD) for cystic acne.


    2 mg/kg/day PO (all formulations EXCEPT Absorica LD) for cystic acne; 1.6 mg/kg/day PO (Absorica LD) for cystic acne.


    1 mg/kg/day PO (all formulations EXCEPT Absorica LD) for cystic acne; 0.8 mg/kg/day PO (Absorica LD) for cystic acne.


    12 years: 1 mg/kg/day PO (all formulations EXCEPT Absorica LD) for cystic acne; 0.8 mg/kg/day PO (Absorica LD) for cystic acne.
    younger than 12 years: Safety and efficacy have not been established.


    Safety and efficacy have not been established.


    Safety and efficacy have not been established.

    Salicylic acid topical

    topical liquid

    • 0.5%
    • 1%
    • 2%
    • 3%
    • 6%
    • 12.6%
    • 13.6%
    • 16.7%
    • 17%
    • 17.6%
    • 26%
    • 27.5%


    • 2%
    • 6%
    • 17%


    • 3%
    • 6%


    • 2%
    • 6%


    • 6%


    • 2%
    • 3%


    • 40%


    • 40%


    • 40%


    • 40%


    • 15%
    • 40%


    Salicylic acid acne

    topical lotion

    • 0.5%

    topical cleanser

    • 2%
    • 0.5%

    topical toner/astringent

    • 2%

    topical gel

    • 2%

    topical pads

    • 2%

    topical cream

    • 2%
    • 6%

    topical foam/aerosol

    • 6%

    topical bar soap

    • 2%

    topical mask

    • 0.5% plus East Indian sandalwood oil and French clay